Millwall boosted their Championship play-off chances with a late winner against rivals Charlton which dented the Addicks’ survival hopes.
In a game played without the usual hostile atmosphere of a south London derby crowd, the visitors edged a goalless first half in terms of possession with Jed Wallace denied by goalkeeper Dillon Phillips at point-blank range, while at the other end Macaulay Bonne forced a low stop from Bartosz Bialkowski.
Yet for all their pressure and set-pieces, Millwall failed to make it count and Charlton imposed themselves on the game, with Tomer Hemed glancing just wide and Bialkowski beating away a fierce Chuks Aneke drive at his near post.
It seemed a stalemate was on the cards but with 10 minutes to go Lions defender Jake Cooper swiped in on the angle at close range after Connor Mahoney’s stinging, swinging, edge-of-the-box drive was parried.
It lifts the visitors to within two points of the top six, while Charlton stay three points above Stoke, who occupy the final bottom three spot but now have a game in hand.
It also extends Millwall’s hoodoo over their rivals to 12 games, having not lost a derby since March 1996.
On a night where Millwall’s forwards struggled against Charlton’s stubborn rearguard, it was left to a defender to break the deadlock when Cooper drilled high into the roof of the net when the ball spun loose.
Thirteen-goal Matt Smith had provided nuisance value before he was replaced by Tom Bradshaw, whose only real chance came as he failed to connect with Murray Wallace’s brilliant centre.
The Lions can do their beaten rivals a favour in their bid to sneak into the promotion picture, with relegation threatened Middlesbrough, Hull and Huddersfield all to come in the run-in.
It looked for long periods that Lee Bowyer’s Charlton would come away with a share of the points to bolster their survival bid, after taking seven points from nine following the restart.
New father Jason Pearce had belied a lack of sleep to marshall the Addicks defence brilliantly, while keeper Phillips had been note-perfect until his spill handed Cooper the opportunity to fire in.
They must now rely on returning to form in their final five games, which include matches against promotion-chasing Brentford and Leeds as well as fellow strugglers Wigan.